Midway through my long rant on the phone, my friend interrupted me with these words: “Friend, I know life is hard right now, but being overwhelmed is a choice you’re making.”
Pinning the phone between my shoulder and ear, I lifted the pot of boiling water with noodles to the sink and poured its contents into a strainer in silent offense.
From my perspective, everyone else was to blame for my overwhelm, not me. Working from home, navigating my husband’s travel schedule and homeschooling two children had seemed to squeeze every ounce of peace from my days. I felt like all my choices had been made for me in this season.
“Blaming others for your overwhelm will only keep you here. Ask God for what you need and take responsibility for what needs to change.”
These words didn’t feel comforting in the moment, yet they held profound weight in the months to come as I contemplated the beliefs that were motivating the broken cycles of behavior I felt trapped by. I needed a shift in my perspective that would shape new beliefs and motivate new behaviors.
Most of what overwhelms us are likely things we once prayed for. Overwhelmed by your children’s emotional and physical needs? Once upon a time you prayed for the child you’re caring for. Under pressure with your responsibilities at work? Your job is the answer to a past cry for provision. Stressed about how messy your house is? You are physically living in an answered prayer.
God never asked us to live with a permanent pair of rose-colored glasses on. Ignoring the hardship of life is not productive or beneficial. However, being overwhelmed is a choice, and it’s a choice you don’t have to make. Instead, Paul gives us this alternative way of living: Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT).
Here’s a simple tip for living a life of peace: trade your expectations for expectancy. Expectations place limits on your peace with a specific outcome you’ve predetermined. But expectancy keeps your eyes wide open with unrestrained belief that God will display his glory and goodness however he chooses to.
Instead of choosing overwhelm, choose expectancy that exceeds your understanding and rests in God’s ability, not your own. In doing this, you will follow God into the next answered prayer he has already prepared before for you.
Tori is the founder of For Eternity and Until, an online community, blog and podcast. Her goal is to create a space for women to go deep, get real and encounter God tangibly and honestly together. She and her husband, Matt, and their two children, Micaiah and Amara, live just south of Nashville, Tennessee.